The DX160 is a quite forgiving IEM that was clearly made for everyone. That immediately tells you not to expect a very detailed, analytic and reference sound. To me it is obvious Beyerdynamic planned on making a “do-it-all” pair of IEMs to use when listening to music on your phone, when watching a movie on the train, etc. the daily stuff most people do with in ear monitors.
They do offer quite good isolation for an iem this size, but of course they’re nowhere the isolation you get with custom monitors. In my limited IEM experience (Nathan is the IEM guy) the best isolating universals to me are the Vsonics and the Fischer Audio Eterna .
The focus with the DX160 is slightly on the bass. Not that you get huge amounts of bass but it clearly has more bass than anything else. Bass detail and layering is not spectacular, you’re getting mostly body. It’s not the tightest or fastest bass but it’s not overly loose either. It’s somewhere in between. I think it’s perfectly tuned for modern, popular music. (Michael Jackson sounds awesome on it). Bass does tend to bleed in to the lower mids a little, drawing the mids back a bit.
The mids themselves, maybe because of the bass, are a bit more drawn in the back. Some will probably call that the Beyer sound from the past. The level of detail in the mids is good but nothing spectacular. There’s a lot of clarity and voices sound very nice to my ears.
The DX160 has good treble detail and clarity but don’t expect the treble quality Beyerdynamic is famous for. Treble has been softened a bit for general use. For some that might sound like treble is less sparkling, especially if you’re into treble.
The DX160 does not have the clearest of backgrounds and it’s on the warmer side of the sound spectrum. It’s not the most detailed IEM and I would call it a lively fun sound. A sound most of the normal users would appreciate. It’s a great IEM for on the go but for me it misses some smoothness and musicality to use it at home or at the office. If it had that as well it could have been a reference pair.
Sound stage wise the DX160 does as expected but nothing more. However it doesn’t produce the inside your head kind of sound a lot of similar priced IEMs have. It’s pretty well done.
Competition in this price range is extremely tough. There are hundreds of brands on the market nowadays and each brand at least has several models. That gives the end consumer a choice of thousands of monitors to choose from. An (almost) impossible job. Some of the more famous competitors might be the Sennheiser Momentum Inear, the award winning Soundmagic E10, RHA T10i and so many more. The list is never ending. I listened to them all at Canjam Europe and besides the RHA t10i, I found them to all more or less play at the same level. Yes, sorry, I’m not the guy that knows how hundreds of different universal IEMs sound but I do know the DX160 beats the Brainwavz S5 we reviewed a while back. Sound quality just is better overall and comfort wise the difference is enormous. I hardly link to other sites but I think this site deserves a mention for all the incredible work he has done in the past. If you want the ultimate universal IEM overview, go to inearmatters.net and be amazed.
Amplification & Source
The DX160 was built to be used without extra amplification. It simply doesn’t need an amp and it works straight out of anything (except my iPod Classic). Of course using an extra amplifier will slightly improve its performance but you shouldn’t foresee a budget for an amplifier. At home I did use it with my Violectric V281, Beyerdynamic A20, Cypherlabs Duet, and the Herus. On the go I mostly used my DX90 which I bought after the review and my Cypherlabs setup (Clas solo + Duet)
You really shouldn’t be too worried about this part, as the DX160 will be easy to use with all sources.
The DX160 is a good, decent sounding IEM for your casual listening. People coming from ibuds will be very impressed with it I’m sure. The more experienced, reference sound seeking, listeners probably won’t like these universals but don’t forget these weren’t made for them. It’s an IEM made for casual qualitative listening that is pleasing to everyone and not just audiophiles. Looking at it like that, Beyer made an excellent and fun sounding IEM.
Yes, the mids could be better and yes, it could be more balanced and musical but at the same time it’s a fun sound that’s easy to like. It all depends what sound you want, what experience you have and what you’ll be using the set for. Like I said, I don’t think Beyerdynamic made it for the more experienced listeners, this is an IEM for everyone, and I’m sure that group will love its sound quality.
I found the DX160 to work well for all genres and that’s a good thing as my DAPs are always on shuffle play. If you’re not an expert listener but you do want a well-built IEM that does all genres, this could just be the IEM for you. It’s comfortable and light, it’s well built, fits really well, looks great and lets you enjoy your music no matter what you’re using to play those MP3s.
It’s available directly from the Beyerdynamic online shop, their dealer network, and of course Amazon.